Living on a Prayer — Part Two

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God uses all things for His glory—even as He used Absalom’s insurrection against His anointed king, David. In this sermon from 2 Samuel 16, Alistair Begg explains how Hushai the Archite, David’s loyal friend and spy, and Ahithophel, a traitor to the king, both acted under God’s sovereign hand. A thousand years later, Jesus would face a similar betrayal, and in His death, God’s ultimate plan—our redemption—would be fulfilled.



The following message by Alistair begg is made available by truth for life. For more information, visit us online. At truth for life dot org. And let’s turn to the passage that we left Part way through this morning, will read from verse 15 of two. Samuel 16 through to the end of the chapter second Samuel 16. And Actually, let’s read from verse 13 from 13 two, Samuel 16 verse 13. So David and his men went on the road while Shimmy. I went along on the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went and threw stones at him and flung dust and the king and all the people who were with him arrived weary at the jordans and there he refreshed himself. Now, Absolutely! All the people, the men of Israel came to Jerusalem and Haifa fell with him. And when hush I, the archive, David’s friend came to Absalom hush! I said to Absalom. Long live the king. Long live the king and Absalom said to hush, I, is this your loyalty to your friend? Why did you not go with your friend? And who shall I said to Absalom, know for whom the Lord and his people and all the men of Israel have chosen his? I will be and with him. I will remain and again, whom should I serve? She did not be his son as I have served your father. So I will serve you then. Absalom said to a healthful. Give your council. What shall we do with official? Said to Absalom go into your father’s concubines whom he has left to keep the house and all Israel will hear that you have made yourself a stench to your father and the hands of all who are with you will be strengthened. So they pitched a tent for absalom on the roof. And Absalom went into his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel. Now, in those days, the council that the NFL gave was as if one consulted the word of God. So was all the counsel of a hitter fell esteemed both by David and by absalom Father. What we know not teach us what we have not give us what we are not make us for jesus sake. Amen. Well, we ended this morning at something of a point of resolution where in the words of David, he was prepared to accept that although the words of shimmy, we’re not entirely true, there was a relevance to them. And he was aware of the fact that even though this evil had come upon him, that God was such a God oven guessable grace that he would perhaps he says it may be that he will turn all of these curses to my good. Now. Although that was a moment, if you like of resolution which is there in verse 12, that response on the part of David did not bring an end to the cursing. It’s not a big point. But I think it is important for us to notice. Sometimes I think when we say. You know, once we get everything resolved, once we’re prepared to acknowledge that God is in control and so on and let him know, then we’ll be able to proceed accordingly and all will be well. So I just want us to make sure we noticed that in verse 13, it says that David and his men went on and as they went on, shimmy, I kept up the same old stuff, throwing the rocks and cursing him out and flinging dust in the air. And so we’re told that having gone on having continued to receive this abuse, they then arrived weary, no surprise and they were refreshed, arriving weary at the Jordan river and there he that is. David refreshed himself presumably, he said while since Zieba brought all that stuff, we might as well enjoy it. And I assume that that at least was part of the refreshment. Then the scene switches to meanwhile, back in Jerusalem, because remember while this has been going on, Absalom has made his way to Jerusalem and the way in which his entry there is described gives to us the notion and it is an accurate notion that all the balance of power was on his side. Absalom and all the people, the men of Israel came to Jerusalem. And so David having been deceived by Zebra, having been cursed by shimmy. I we’re now going to find him supported by his friend who shy and of course opposed by his one time counselor a healthful actually, we could call this second study quite easily the spy and the traitor. The spy and the traitor is actually a wonderful book written by a british follow called Ben Macintyre. I commend it to you. I don’t often recommend books, certainly not spy stories in my sermon, but it’s the name of the book and that’s why I chose it. It is actually the greatest espionage story of the Cold War that has actually been written. It is it is a quite amazing story, if you like, spy spy stories at all, it is entirely factual and but it reads like a novel anyway, it’s the story of the spy and the traitor, which is the story that we have here. Now as we come to this, we have to remind ourselves, as I said this morning, we have to keep our bearings all the time. We’ve got to see where we’re headed and where we fit on the Gps as it were. David remember has been unsettled by the news of rifles defection and as a result of that, he has then prayed to God that God would overturn turn upside down the kind of guidance that a handful would offer. He has at the same time dispatched hush. I the archetype to archive to whom were reintroduced. Now he has sent him back to Jerusalem as a kind of double agent. It’s really quite quite exciting. And you send him back as a double agent in the hope that he will be able to become the answer to David’s prayer that somehow or another through the ministries administrations of the hush I the council of a Healthful will be defeated. Oh God, defeat the counsel of his thoughtful hush. I go up to Jerusalem and go and and fulfill the role of a spy. Now, as we said this morning, it is, it is almost obvious from this vantage point that all of the balance of power and significance and influence and potentiality for raining from the throne is to be found on the side at this point of Absalon. And indeed if hush I is not successful in fulfilling this mission, if then the prayer of David is not answered, then it’s hard to see that David’s kingdom continue any further at all. So what we have is the weary group in the country in need of refreshment. Absalom. Allhiphop fell and his company julie installed in Jerusalem with the odds of victory on absalom side. But hush I, the archive Was David’s friend Verse 16 and he knew what his part was to play. It’s important as we read this, to remind ourselves that Absalom knows nothing of the conversation that has taken place between David and hush I, that has taken place without absolute knowledge. Therefore, when who she shows up and encounters absalom in this setting. Absalom has no background to it at all. And it is not surprising that he presses him in the way that he does the presumption. Um that is part and parcel of Absalom psyche. Remember we said he’s pretty well stuck on himself. Makes it possible, makes it distinctly possible for hush. I to be able to con him alright. If Absalon was different from what he is, it wouldn’t be as easy as it turns out to be. So, for example, he says, long live the king, long live the king. And immediately absolute says, well, that’s jolly nice because he assumes that it is a reference to himself. Part one of the subterfuge is now in place after all. He knows that the trumpet had declared him king in Hebron verse 10 of chapter 15. He knows that the people that he had set out throughout his, the kingdoms and the tribes had done their job of gossiping the news so that when the trumpets sounded, he would be declared the king in Hebron. And he must have been saying to himself, well, it’s very wonderful, isn’t it? Now to hear this declaration of my kingship coming even on the lips of hush, I especially given his friendship with David. And then he says, well, let me just ask you about this though, is this how you show loyalty to your friend? Why are you here with me rather than there with him. Well, who should I said to Absalom, no. For whom the Lord and this people and all the men of Israel have chosen his. I will be and with him I will remain. He’s doing a very good job. Right. Because he hasn’t used anybody’s name yet. He hasn’t attributed to David. He has not assigned it to Absalon. No, he says the one that the Lord has chosen. I will be with him and with him. I will remain well once again, in absolute terms. Mind this is clearly a reference to his good self. And so apparently he is beginning to convince himself that hush I will actually be loyal to him now the reason this is very, very important of course, is because hush I is going to be used all being well to overturn the counsel of a handful. But it is for a hit thankful that that Absalom is going to look for council in just a moment or two. A council that he is about to receive and with which she has absolutely nothing to do with, nothing to say. So, it’s really quite exciting if you’re reading it to your grandchildren or to your Children. Don’t mess it up. Don’t finish the story. Alright. The ambiguity. The ambiguity of who she’s words allow Absalom to conclude one thing while we actually know as the readers that he is declaring something else. And of course the wonderful thing is that hush I is David’s friend that hush I is actually the friend of the king. Now there was a reason this we sang this morning What a friend we have in jesus because it emerged from my study during the week and thinking about this amazing truth that we become friends of the king. And in a brief sidebar, let me remind you of this in relationship to Jesus and his disciples. In John chapter 15 where jesus speaking to his followers says, and this is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends. If you do what I command you no longer do. I call you servants? For the servant does not know what his master is doing, but I have called you friends for all that I have heard from my father, I have made known to you. Now this insight comes from my old testament, Professor Woodhouse, but it is so good that it mustn’t be missed and therefore I gladly pass it on to you. Woodhouse makes the point and does so briefly, but with great clarity that to be a friend of the king as who should I was, was not a symmetrical thing. The relationship between king and whoever was the friend of the king was a relationship that was disproportionate, so that it was entirely legitimate if you like for David to say, who shy is my friend, but not actually for who shy to say. And King? David is my friend. What is it? What do you mean? Alright, well, what does he mean? He means this. But while we were very happy to sing what a friend we have in jesus and we are glad to sing it and we chose to sing it and sang it with some um some magnificence, I would say the fight of the matter is Jesus looks upon us and says Sarah mary Colin, Michael, you are my friend and Serry, sarah mary Colin and Michael respond and jesus, you are my king. Yeah, the relationship is not symmetrical, Jesus is king and I will extol him. The fact that he calls us friends is a miracle of his grace and is not in any case a mechanism for presumption on our part. When we address him with a sense of intimacy, you can thank Woodhouse for that and you can pray hard that he will be allowed out of Australia soon so that he can come and help us in the first person. Now, the reason that all of this is so important is because it is paving the way for the fact that in verse five and I’m going to allow you just to let your I looked down in verse five, Absalom says completely out of the blue call hush I the architect archive and let us hear what he has to say this is a pivotal moment and that would not have happened if the dialogue that we’ve just considered had not unfolded in the way that it did. That the ambiguity of it on the part of Absalom, the ambiguous way in which he received this information created within him, at least, a sense of the loyalty of hush. I unbeknownst to him, he was actually acting as a spy. And of course, there are parts of the advice that is coming his way that will change things entirely. Now that then gives us enough on the matter of the work or the advice of the spy. And now we turn finally to the traitor. His thoughtful is the traitor. I said this morning that he is the old testament equivalent of judas Iscariot. Even as he was a traitor to jesus, the king. So his thoughtful is a traitor to king. David, Fascinatingly. Absalom says to his thoughtful, give your council what shall we do? You gotta be careful who you ask advice from. It’s not unusual for David to have inquired. But I think when you go back through 2nd Samuel, you will find that the recurring phrase and David inquired of the Lord. And here he inquires of a hitter cell, we know of course, that his counsel, the council that a Hipfl gave was as if one consulted the word of God. There’s something very dangerous about that. And I’ll show you in a moment or two, as we conclude that there is something very wonderful about it, to the danger in it is going to people who give counsel, who are so definitive in the things that they say that they passed themselves off as if they were actually counseling you on the word of God. Make sure when you go and ask advice of anybody that they do it with an open bible, make sure that they are counseling you out of the clear instruction of scripture, not out of their wisdom and relationship to scripture, but scripture itself. Because there are a half officials around. There are a number of them around. You’ve got to make sure to whom you go for guidance. And of course a rifle is as clear as he is. Concise. What shall we do? A riffle said to Absalom, Go into your father’s concubines, whom he has left to keep the house. Remember, we said in our previous study that David had decided when they fled from Jerusalem, that he would leave these 10 concubines behind. We said in passing that it was going to prove a significant decision on his part. And here is the answer. Sleep with the king’s concubines in the sight of all Israel or if you like to contemporaries, it sleep with the king’s concubines. And I’ll make sure that it goes on facebook. It doesn’t mean that everybody in Israel is going to watch this. Sorry spectacle. It means that it will be public knowledge. And he says, if you do this, it will be really foundational for your future kingship because it will be obvious to everybody that you have entirely burned your bridges with any possibility of reconciliation with your father, that it will be clear that you have taken over his territory. Because in the in the ancient East, at that time, when there was a transition from one king to another, all of the material and physical and actually social dimensions of that kingdom then transferred into the hands of the new king. And so in one sense, Absalom is simply doing what would normally be done. But what is being described here as being done is something beyond the realm of the ordinary. And his head fell. What a character essentially system. Well, we’ll get things organized for you. Why don’t we? Um since we want to make clear that everybody understands this, why don’t we pitch a tent for you on the roof? Well, for those who have been studying, we know on the roof, yes, on the very same roof, the same roof that David had been lounging on and we’re told stood up on and gazed out to find bathsheba bathing what then followed in that incident was hidden from public view. What follows now is unashamedly displayed for public knowledge. What a sorry word it is, isn’t it? And Absalom went in and he went in, You see, we said again, didn’t we? The great danger that there is in the gifts of God to us. You said, how can there be danger in them? Well, unless they are sanctified, they can be a real problem because from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head, there was no blemish in him. Now we’re talking here about his physical appearance. We’re not talking about his character. His persona was such that he was admired by all he was coveted surely by the female population. But his character was something else. You can shine your shoes and wear a suit, you can comb your hair and look quite cute, you can hide your face behind that smile. But one thing you can’t hide it is when you’re crippled inside. Who wrote that, John Lennon 1971. The imagine album. Yeah. And that’s exactly what has happened here. And here’s the fell so powerful who’s shy, who’s to know what will happen from here. But in actual fact, what were then told to conclude the incident is actually key. Remember we said it is a dangerous word, but it is a wonderful word. Now in those days. The council that a healthful gave was as if one consulted the word of God. I think about that for just a moment. What was the word of God? two Samuel 1211. Thus says the Lord behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor and he shall live with your wives in the sight of the sun. Remarkable, isn’t it? So in other words, the evil that it is a cell conveyed and the activity in which absalom engaged was under the provision cell of a sovereign God. That absolutely by his own volition dead. What a health official, in such a contemptible and wicked way advised. And the mystery is this, that the evil act was at the same time the Lord is doing, I said this morning and we finish again, really in the same place, here is the mystery evil never thwarts God’s good purpose. It doesn’t, it can’t neither is evil ever justified because it is used by God for good. There’s no situation ethics in this, it doesn’t transmute evil into a good. Evil is evil lies or lies. They do not become something else. But here in the mystery of it all, in the words of a health official, unbeknownst to him, he is actually setting forward what God had said through his prophet before. Our good friend Sinclair Ferguson advised us as always, when we say something like this, to make sure that such an assertion can be proved true in relationship to the Lord, jesus himself. In other words, he always says to me, Hey, Alistair, if it doesn’t work for jesus, it doesn’t work just be clear about that. So here’s the question does this work then, in relationship to jesus? Well, here’s peter at Pentecost. Men of Israel. Hear these words, jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst. As you yourselves know, this jesus delivered up according to the definite plan and Foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of Lawless. That they’re at the very cross of christ at the very central point at which the evil one himself says, see we will have victory in and over this king now, and Peter filled with the Holy Spirit and given a grasp and an insight that had not marked him previously, is able to preach so magnificently and make the point that is actually being made here at the end of chapter 16. This message was brought to you from Truth for life where the learning is for living, learn more about truth for life with Alistair begg visit us online at Truth for life dot org

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Alistair Begg is the Senior Pastor of Cleveland's Parkside Church (located in Bainbridge, Geauga County, Ohio), a position he has had since 1983. He is the...

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